Sharing stage with Ko irrelevant to cross-party cooperation: KMT chair
Taipei, Feb. 24 (CNA) Sharing the stage with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), chairman of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) during a Kuomintang (KMT)-organized forum does not mean that the two opposition parties will join forces for next year's local elections, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said Wednesday.
Chiang made the remark on a radio show before attending the forum, amid speculation that Ko's agreement to speak at the event could mean a KMT-TPP alliance in the run-up to 2022 local elections.
Chiang said the KMT has always been open to the possibility of cooperating with other parties when it comes to issues concerning the public interest.
However, such speculation is "overthinking," as the main theme of the one-day forum was on social justice issues and "issues concerning possible two-party collaboration in politics will not be touched upon," he said.
In the case of the local elections, each party has its own agenda, with the same goal of making sure the candidates they nominate will excel in election campaigns, he went on, adding that it would therefore be extremely challenging for two political parties to join forces.
Asked to comment on the issue, Ko echoed Chiang's view, saying that the TPP is open to cooperation with all parties on issues concerning people's livelihoods.
He added that he would also speak at ruling Democratic Progressive Party-organized events if invited.
Asked about the 2022 local elections, the mayor called on members of the media to "take it easy," as there is a long way to go before next year's polls.
Meanwhile during Wednesday's forum -- the second of the KMT's three-part social dialogue to discuss Taiwan's future that touches on social issues such as housing, wages and distribution of wealth -- Ko said his Taipei City government has built a large number of social and affordable housing units to make living in the capital city more affordable for the younger generation.
He called on lawmakers like Chiang to revise related laws so that the government can impose vacant residential property taxes to deal with Taiwan's soaring house prices and property speculation.
Also Wednesday, Sean Lien (連勝文), a member of the KMT's Central Standing Committee who represented the party in the 2014 Taipei mayoral election and lost to Ko, cautioned the party on possible cooperation with the TPP.
The son of former KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) told reporters that the KMT leadership should carefully evaluate the pros and cons if it chooses to work with the TPP in upcoming elections.
A consensus has to be reached within the party before the KMT leadership makes a final decision, he added.
Lien was reportedly angry that Ko was invited to Wednesday's forum, as the invitation was made without first gaining his consent.
Taiwanese voters will elect the mayors of special municipalities, townships and cities, county magistrates, village chiefs and councilors in polls next year that are widely seen as a bellwether for the 2024 presidential and legislative elections.
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